June 17 critique on deck

The best thing in the paper: This week’s best in the paper has to go to the entire Life section. Yes, the entire Life section. There’s a good mix of stories — geocaching, bit of history, a Con, and veggies. Who thought that all that would go well together but they do. But what’s really excellent is that nearly every story has a digital component to it. The geocaching story has an excellent video that you have to watch. The veggie story has a quiz (who knew plantains were a veggie?) and the history story had visuals from the Purity Journal. Add to this the design and copy editing skillz from the production desk — yes!  Great job, Life team!


The best headline: Talking about copy editing, best headline in the paper is Caching In. People look for hidden treasure around campus. Love this headline, Brenna Norrell!

  • It capitalizes on the topic – caching – while giving it context (it’s a treasure hunt y’all!)
  • It’s a catchy and quick. My eye and curiosity are drawn to it.

Also gotta mention Diana Mendoza’s first front page headline. Way to go!

The best visual: There’s lots of great visuals in this paper. And lots more than last week. I’m loving that and think that’s great. (More on that later.) However, I think the best visual is actually on the website this week. Kayla Stigall and Cody Bahn’s video on geocaching was fun and interesting. They took readers on a their own geocach search and showed them how it worked. Fun!


Honorable mention: Alexa Stickler’s photo on page 7 made me wish it was in color. Seriously. I like how the photos were displayed in a bunch with the dominant photo leading  and anchoring the page.  It’s also worth mentioning Nnenna Ijomah’s front page story today. This was something she pitched to her editor — her own story idea — and she made it happen. Kudos on that.


I loved the design on the front page. Here’s why. There’s TONS of entry points, which are places where readers can get into the story. So, things like charts and graphs, text boxes, photo illustrations, etc can give extra information to readers before getting into the story. The more entry points (within reason, don’t get crazy) the easier it is for readers to get into the paper and therefore read the story. It also gets rid of a lot of the gray For this particular front page, I see four 1) photo ill with info 2) graphic 3) pull quote (is it a quote, there’s no quote marks) and a how-to box.


However, with great entry points comes great responsibility. The photo ill needs chatter. That’s means an intro sentence or two or three about the data putting it in context. So for the 5 stages of sleep, the chatter could be — According to the National Sleep Foundation, there are five stages of sleep to deep sleep. A recent study has linked the lack of sleep to Alzheimer’s.  That puts the visual in context.


The same can be said for the bar graph. I’m not sure what I’m looking at, other than the misspelled word (What’s that about? Was that copy edited before it went on the page?). I liked that we had this info but why didn’t we have UTA’s info? What were our numbers? They’re on the Clery Report that’s on the website. Those numbers makes more sense to use.


Karen Gavis practically wrote the Life section this week! And they were great stories. I saw, however, that one of her online components wasn’t online at the time I read the traces of history story. I know that it was put on there later but you only have one time with readers when they are looking for assets. If it’s not there when they look for it, they won’t come back. That stuff needs to be up early.


Let’s talk about opportunity because there were two stories that missed opportunities to be bigger. The assault peer advocate program story was a little thin, and it’s not because there wasn’t info out there. I would have loved to have seen some students talk about this right in the beginning. In fact it could have been a lede. I would have liked to have seen some stats about assaults on campus. I would have liked to have seen what experiences other college campuses have seen with a similar program. What is the recommendation of national or regional orgs on having peer advocates. Sometimes, the story isn’t just about the new program that started. The story in this case is about impact, effectiveness, what this thing could look like and do. That’s a stronger story and opens up possibilities when immediate sources don’t call back.


We missed another opportunity with the Native American Student Association story. This story is not about them doing a video in support of the Lakota 57. It’s about them growing into activism. Stories change all the time and this is one that did almost immediately. I’m surprised we didn’t recognize it and planned accordingly.


This week’s editorial is interesting but it really read like a column, not the voice of The Shorthorn. Why is The Shorthorn concerned about female representation in TV and movies? Isn’t it concerned about campus carry? Isn’t it concerned about how this legislative session will impact the university and students? Or what the budget will actually cover this fiscal year? Or about the campus’ sexual assault policies? We had a police headquarters shot up. We had McKinney. We’ve had state, local, and campus issues to write about. Let’s write about it.


Back on the front page — the sleep story was about sleeping and students and Alzheimer’s but there’s no students in it. It only has two sources? It also talks about the two studies? I thought there was one study which was the news peg? Yes? But  I don’t know that because it doesn’t say.


Alright folks that’s what I got. Let me know if you have some questions.


This entry was posted in Training by Icess Fernandez Rojas. Bookmark the permalink.

About Icess Fernandez Rojas

Icess is a writer, professor, and blogger. She is a graduate of Goddard College's MFA program. Her work has been published in Rabble Lit, Minerva Rising Literary Journal, and the Feminine Collective's anthology Notes from Humanity. Her nonfiction has appeared in Dear Hope, NBCNews.com, HuffPost and the Guardian. She is a recipient of the Owl of Minerva Award, a VONA/Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation alum, and is also a Kimbilio Fellow. She's currently working on her first novel.

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